Cheryl Skjolaas is part of team that wins Extension Chancellor’s Award for Excellence

Creating more than a dozen intentional manure spills may not seem like a good way to protect Wisconsin’s water resources. Yet this innovative approach to demonstrating the proper way to contain, clean up and restore a spill site is one of the many innovations piloted by UW-Extension’s Custom Manure Applicator Subcommittee of the ANRE Nutrient Management Team.

As a result of these demonstrations and the Subcommittee’s other work, the Subcommittee was chosen to receive the UW-Extension/UW Colleges 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

“The annual Chancellor’s Awards recognize outstanding contributions by UW Colleges’ and UW-Extension’s partners, supporters and employees to undergraduate education and university outreach around the state,” said Interim Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix.

Members of the subcommittee include:
— Ted Bay, UW-Extension Grant County Crops/Farm Management Agent
— Joe Bollman, UW-Extension Columbia County Agriculture Agent
— Jerry Clark, UW-Extension Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties Crops/Soils Educator
— Kevin Erb, UW-Extension Conservation Professional Development & Training Coordinator
— Matt Hanson, UW-Extension Dodge County Crops/Soils Agent
— Jim Leverich, UW-Extension On-farm Research Coordinator
— Nick Schneider, UW-Extension Winnebago County Agriculture Agent
— Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Extension Youth Agricultural Safety Specialist

Manure is a big issue in Wisconsin. Our dairy industry produces the equivalent of 12 billion gallons of liquid waste annually –enough to cover a college or NFL football field (including endzones) to a depth of 5¼ miles. Manure is a valuable fertilizer –but applied incorrectly, it can cause fish kills, drinking water contamination and fertilize algae growth in lakes and streams. One third of this manure is applied by 116 for-hire application firms serving Wisconsin.

Since their initial formation in 2000, this subcommittee has worked with agencies, stakeholders and professional applicators in Wisconsin and across the North Central states to reduce the risk of water contamination by:

— Assisting in the formation of a statewide trade association (Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin – PNAAW) to address common issues
— Partnering with the insurance industry to create market-based incentives (10% to 50% premium reductions) for professional applicators taking part in the training and certification.
— Leveraging more than $750,000 in federal, state and industry resources to create two research projects looking at the impact of heavy farm equipment on rural and town roads and bridges in rural areas.
— Empowering individual applicators to become active participants in the rulemaking process with DATCP and DNR, serving on the Governor’s Manure Management Task Force, and working on common issues with the Towns Association, State Patrol and Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

This Extension effort has produced significant benefits for both the industry and the environment. A fully trained employee will understand the regulations farmers are under, and is better able to help the farmer meet the regulations. The value of the training is reflected in the recent increase in participation:

— 336 employees, representing 45 of the 116 firms have completed Level 1 since January 1, 2010. This represents a 100% increase over the long term average. These employees have been tested on the basics of spill response, safe application and Wisconsin regulations.
— DATCP, DNR and local Land Conservation Districts report that farmer’s manure management plans are more fully implemented because of the training program.
— We have documented an increase in reported manure spills because applicators are less afraid of the regulatory community and encouraged farmers to follow the law and self report. At the same time, we have documented a decrease in spills/runoff by for-hire applicators

For more information about the UW-Extension/UW-Colleges awards, go to